In this article, we profile the 25 top affordable online master’s in communication degree programs.
Good communication is essential to every organization, whether leading a sales team or building strong customer and client relationships. Nearly every employer seeks an employee with effective communication skills. With value on communications, graduates with advanced skills are able to find work in a wide range of industries. Fields that hire communication experts include education, law, media, and public relations.
We examined 77 accredited colleges and universities that offered at least one online master’s degree in communications. We narrowed our pool to schools ranked by major publications like Forbes magazine, The Princeton Review, and U.S. News and World Report. We then selected the 25 most affordable among these recognized schools based on the most recent graduate tuitions rates found at NCES College Navigator. We listed our selections in order of affordability, with the #1 spot going to the most affordable.
Below are the resulting selections for our 25 top affordable online master’s in communication degrees.
#25 – University of Illinois
Online Master of Science in Health Communication
Graduate tuition/fees: $18,041
As health organizations continue to search for skilled communicators familiar with the healthcare industry, expect programs like Illinois’ online master of science in health communication to grow in step. Students in this two-year, asynchronous online master’s in communication program explore communication on three levels: interpersonal, organizational, social.
Students progress through the HCOM program together as a cohort; a part-time option is available as well. Courses follow a set sequence: one eight week course, followed by a two-week break or hiatus, and ending with a four-week course for a total of 14 weeks. Full-time status for the HCOM means students take on two courses per term.
#24 – Quinnipiac University
Online MS in Interactive Media
Graduate tuition/fees: $17,874
When it comes to online learning, Quinnipiac University was an early adopter, launching the school’s online offerings in 2001. The 30-credit MS in interactive media and communications represents one of Quinnipiac’s online programs today, one that uniquely explores the very platform it uses: digital.
Meanwhile, the curriculum of this online master’s in communication degree reserves the bulk of courses for electives that allow students to tailor the program to fully meet their learning objectives. Through this program, students explore such topics as web design and development, social media analytics, and UX and UI. The capstone project requires students to create and present their professional-quality web portfolio.
#23 – Gonzaga University
Online Master’s in Communication and Leadership Studies
Graduate tuition/fees: $15,090
Through Gonzaga University’s master’s in communication and leadership studies program, students expand their skills in such areas as audience analysis, message impact, cultural awareness, and presentation. Thirty credits comprise the curriculum of this online master’s in communication degree, which requires one on-campus visit. On average, students take two years to complete all requirements.
Located in Spokane, Washington, Gonzaga offers 33 graduate programs. The online master’s in communication prepares students to work with metrics and understand how this data can help shape effective messaging. Students may choose from five concentrations: college teaching, digital media strategies, global leadership, servant leadership, and strategic and organizational communication.
#22 – Westminster College
Online Master of Strategic Communication
Salt Lake City, Utah
Graduate tuition/fees: $13,580
Westminster College’s five-semester master of strategic communication provides students the opportunity to work with real-world clients while still in the program. Competency-based, the program teaches through a hybrid format, requiring students to attend class on-campus in Salt Lake City once per semester. Students in this online master’s in communication progress through the program with a cohort. Together, the cohort takes one international trip together where students put their new skills into practice. Peru and South Africa are two past MA destinations. Students graduate in 18 months. Westminster College serves over 2,500 students.
#21 – Washington State University
Master’s in Strategic Communication Online
Graduate tuition/fees: $12,745
The master’s in strategic communication online program from WSU requires 30 credits, 12 of which comprise the core curriculum. For the specialization in strategic communication, students take five classes covering such topics as persuasion, creative media, consumer behavior, and brand development. This online master’s in communication degree aims to help professionals advance their careers in advertising, public relations, and corporate settings.
What’s more, the multidisciplinary degree does not require applicants to hold a degree in communications. Admitted students hail from various backgrounds, some with no training in strategic communication and some seasoned pros. WSU waives the GRE requirement.
#20 – University of Florida
Online Master’s in Global Strategic Communication
Graduate tuition/fees: $12,737
Global communication encompasses the focus of this online master’s in communication degree from UF. The 36-credit master’s in global strategic communication zeroes in on thoughtful, calculated communication and how such skill can prove integral in solving issues and mediating conflict. The areas in which this program sees effective communication applying: climate change, immigration, poverty, and human rights.
Students learn through asynchronous format, meaning they can log in anytime that works best for them. Courses feature recorded lectures and live office hours. Meanwhile, eight concentrations allow learners to tailor their MA in global strategic communication even further. These areas of focus include audience analytics, cross media sales, and storytelling.
#19 – Clarion University of Pennsylvania
Online MS in Mass Media Arts and Journalism
Graduate tuition/fees: $12,222
Established in 1867, Clarion University in Pennsylvania serves the educational needs of an estimated 4,330 undergraduates and nearly 1,000 postgraduates. The 36-credit MS in mass media arts and journalism represents one of the school’s diverse graduate programs. With a theoretical based in communications, the program couples coursework with practical professional experience. Students can complete all requirements in as little as 18 months.
The skills learned from this online master’s in communication may apply to various fields and roles. From the core curriculum, students take on such topics as mass communication theory, the foundations of public relations, and technology through a societal, legal, and media lens. The degree culminates with a thesis or research study.
#18 – National University
Online Master of Arts in Strategic Communications
La Jolla, California
Graduate tuition/fees: $10,962
The master of arts in strategic communication at NU fosters creative thinking and equips graduates with the skills in both theory and practice to meet the expectations of the field today. Through 45 quarter units, students gain proficiency in strategic areas like solution generation and logical analysis. Note that nine of the 10 courses comprise the core curriculum, wherein students study such topics as research methods, campaign management, and communicating in a global environment. Students participate through asynchronous courses, permitting working professionals to enroll and work toward their communications degree through schedule that works best for them.
#17 – Lasell College
Online MS in Communication
Graduate tuition/fees: $10,870
With Lasell College’s master of science in communication, students can build a plan of study that fits their own schedule. The online master’s in communication program requires learners complete 28 credits at least, including 18 in the core curriculum which explores such topics as ethics and society, communication research, persuasion, and media relations.
Lasell College waives the graduate school entrance-exam requirement. Program completion averages 12 to 24 months. Learners may choose from three concentrations: health communication which covers industry trends; integrated marketing communication which explores topics like brand awareness; and public relations which focuses on promotions and how to establish relationships. Note that classes cap at 23 students.
#16 – Mississippi College
MS in Applied Communication Online
Graduate tuition/fees: $10,302
The MS in applied communication examines the underpinnings of communication through a curriculum that blends theory with practice. While the program offers seven concentrations, distance learners may choose between two: a generalist degree or health services. This said, students admitted to the online master’s in communication at MC can tailor the degree to meet career goal across numerous fields, from theater to mass media to healthcare.
To apply to the MSC program at MC, prospective students must hold a four-year degree and a 2.5 GPA or higher. The graduate program requires no entrance exam.
#15 – University of Alabama
Online Master of Arts in Communication Studies
Graduate tuition/fees: $10,170
The MA in communication studies at UA requires a minimum of 30 hours of coursework, including 12 credit hours in a specialization. Students may choose from three tracks: conflict and negotiation, group leadership, and organizational communication. Through this program, students gain skills that apply to any workplace.
The online master’s in communication examines the theoretical and applied aspects of communication today. Students explore such topics as public discussion, persuasion, and interpersonal communication. For the culminating capstone experience, learners choose between creating a professional project (portfolio) or taking a comprehensive exam. As for admissions, UA accepts applications on a rolling basis. Applicants must hold a 3.0 GPA and submit for review GRE or MAT scores.
#14 – Purdue University
Online Master of Science in Communication
West Lafayette, Indiana
Graduate tuition/fees: $10,002
The online master of science in communication at Purdue University emphasizes the role clear and concise communication plays in a technical and tech-driven world that moves at a clip faster than 24 hours. The program offers two concentrations meant to help advance careers in public relations or advertising. Courses are mainly asynchronous, through interaction with peers and instructors is an important component for every course.
Graduates or Purdue’s online master’s in communication should be proficient in audience considerations, credibility and ethics, evaluating global communication, and the analysis of social-media engagement. To apply, prospective students do not need a four-year communications degree.
#13 – University of Iowa
Online Master’s in Strategic Communication
Iowa City, Iowa
Graduate tuition/fees: $9,693
The 30-credit online master’s in strategic communication brings the rigorous standards of UI to distance learners both in- and out-of-state. Through the degree professional curriculum, students obtain the skills needed to compete in such diverse fields as finance, healthcare, and politics.
With the online master’s in communication, UI students can take a two-, three-, or four-year plan of study. To complete the degree in two years, students must take two courses per term in the fall, spring, and summer. Core courses delve into topics like crisis communication, event planning, and the use of social media. The electives, meanwhile, explore areas of focus like risk communication, copywriting, and media management.
#12 – Ohio University
Online Master’s in Organizational Communication
Graduate tuition/fees: $9,510
Students can complete the master’s in organization communication at Ohio University in as few as 15 months. Working professionals who can only take one course per term can finish all requirements in two years.
Ohio University’s online master’s in communication requires two core courses, four electives, and a capstone experience. While the core courses explore communicative practice within organizations and measurement methodology, electives take on such topics as information diffusion and cross-cultural communication. For the capstone, students choose from three options: a comprehensive exam, applied project, or master’s thesis. For admissions, students should hold some related experience, with at least three years preferred.
#11 – West Virginia University
Online Master’s in Corporate and Organizational Communication
Morgantown, West Virginia
Graduate tuition/fees: $8,568
The MA in corporate and organizational communication aims to help professionals improve their communication skills and further advance or transition their careers. Students graduate prepared to create effective communication, whether for internal reasons or external projects like marketing.
Students who take at least two three-credit courses per term can finish the MA in two years. Courses in the online master’s in communication at WVU explore such topics as the conflict in organizations and the influence of new media on society. Prospective communications students do not need an educational background in the discipline, nor do they need to submit scores for entrance exams like the GRE or GMAT.
#10 – University of Nebraska
Online Master’s in Journalism and Mass Communications
Graduate tuition/fees: $8,556
Students enrolled in the MA in journalism and mass communication at UNL choose from one of three tracks. Students in option I must complete a minimum of 30 credits and submit a thesis in their final year. Options II and III, meanwhile, represent the non-thesis tracks but require six more credits. Students who choose option II must also complete one or two minors.
Students can also tailor their communication MA through one of two concentrations: integrated media communications (IMC) and professional journalism. For the IMC focus, learners must complete a basic statistics course unless they already did so during their undergraduate studies.
#9 – Concordia University
Master of Arts in Strategic Communication Management
St. Paul, Minnesota
Graduate tuition/fees: $8,550
CSP offers the master of arts in strategic communication management both on-campus and online. For learners who may also work full-time, the program’s flexibility proves especially convenient. The online master’s in communication centers on applying both strategic thinking and logical analysis to messaging across virtually all industries.
A minimum of 36 credits comprises the communication MA at CSP, and each course lasts for seven weeks. The online master’s in communication program serves as a complement to what students already know through real-world experience as the majority of CSP communication students bring a background or serious interest in corporate communication, public relations, or strategic planning. CSP holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
#8 – South Dakota State University
Online Master of Mass Communication
Brookings, South Dakota
Graduate tuition/fees: $8,329
New students admitted to SDSU’s online master of mass communication obtain the new media skills necessary to compete in the profession today. Learners choose between two tracks: a 32-credit track that culminates with a professional project and a 36-credit track where students complete a professional portfolio. Class size averages 15 students, and the cohort sets the pace.
In this online master’s in communication, sessions last for eight weeks. Peer interaction proves an integral part of the program, even though the participation remains asynchronous. Upon graduation, students possess the skills and knowledge to work across various platforms and domains, whether they work in print, broadcast, advertising, marketing, or public relations.
#7 – Queens University of Charlotte
Online Master of Arts in Communication
Charlotte, North Carolina
Graduate tuition/fees: $8,147
Formed in 1857, Queens University of Charlotte is a private university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. The university’s student profile of 2,300 enrollees includes approximately 515 graduate students.
The NC-based university delivers the 36-credit online master of arts in communication through an agile internet-based learning environment that students can access anytime, anywhere. The program’s progressive curriculum focuses on metrics and how to apply this information to create effective messaging that resonates with one’s target audience. Students may choose to take on the optional concentration in integrated digital strategy, which requires three more credits. The program culminates with a hands-on capstone that addresses a contemporary communication issue.
#6 – Liberty University
Master of Arts in Communication Online
Graduate tuition/fees: $8,000
On average, students take 1.5 years to complete Liberty University’s 36-credit master of arts in communication. Delivered entirely online, this online master’s in communication integrates communication theory and professional practice. Students obtain the skills to navigate the diverse communicative needs of enterprises big and small.
Rhetorical theory, criticism, and research comprise the core of Liberty’s MA in communication. Core courses cover conflict analysis, collaborative communication, and strategic storytelling. All courses last for eight weeks, and Liberty accepts up to 50% of transfer credit. Applicants must hold a four-year degree from an accredited institution and a 3.0 GPA. Liberty waives the entrance exam.
#5 – Minnesota State University
Online Master’s in Communication Studies
Graduate tuition/fees: $7,547
This 36-credit program features a multidisciplinary program designed for those who wish to teach communication and writing composition at the postsecondary junior level. Credential requirements vary by state, but the minimum degree to teach at a community college typically is a master’s degree.
The master of science in communication and composition from MNSU culminates with a capstone in which students choose between creating an alternate paper or completing an internship. Full-time learners who take nine credits per term can graduate from MSNU in two years. Prospective communications students must submit three letters of recommendation, a writing sample, and a statement of purpose detailing their personal, educational, and professional goals.
#4 – Spring Arbor University
Online Master’s in Strategic Communication and Leadership
Spring Arbor, Michigan
Graduate tuition/fees: $6000 to $10325 per semester
A Christian institution affiliated with the Free Methodist Church, SAU integrates into every program curriculum leadership and faith-based activities. The university’s master of arts in strategic communication and leadership features courses on communication as vocation and calling, digital media strategies, and communication theory and worldview.
This online master’s in communication waives the GRE or GMAT for admission. Students can complete all degree requirements in 18 months and graduate with an ePortfolio that’s ready to share in employment search and interviewing. Students in the MA in communication take one seven-week course at a time. Such a learning format helps relieve stress for students, especially those who work full-time, and also builds momentum for students as they progress through requirements.
#3 – East Carolina University
Online MS in Communication Sciences and Disorders
Greenville, North Carolina
Graduate tuition/fees: $6,857
The online master’s in communication at ECU centers on the rapidly growing area of health communication. More than ever, health-related organizations today need individuals with the talent to communicate and connect with patients, physicians, and staff through various platforms. This developing concentration delves the areas of computer-mediated communication, doctor-patient interactions, and digital advertising.
The 39-credit program requires students complete 18 hours of core courses and nine in the health communication emphasis. Students choose between a thesis or non-thesis track. There are seven scholarships for ECU communication students, including two specifically for graduate enrollees. The Lester C. & Alta M. Rees Memorial Scholarship actually gives preference to students who reside outside North Carolina.
#2 – Missouri State University
MA in Communication Online
Graduate tuition/fees: $5,500
MSU’s online MA in communication blends theory and research with the chance to put e-learning into action through internships. Though online, distance learners should feel as though they are part of the MSU campus and community. For the online master’s in communication, MSU offers three concentrations: conflict, organizational communication, and public relations. Courses take place in the spring and fall, and students who take 10-12 credits per semester can finish degree requirements in two years’ time. Online learners pay the same per-credit tuition, regardless if they live in Missouri or not. In total, MSU offers 16 graduate degree programs.
#1 – Regent University
Online Master of Arts in Communication
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Graduate tuition/fees: $1,167
The 33-credit online master’s in communication from Regent University focuses on strategic communication, teaching learners the fundamentals of multiplatform writing, media law, and influence through writing. The curriculum of the MA in communication builds around a choice of eight electives. Two courses comprise the core curriculum, one of which prepares students for the program’s capstone. For the capstone, students choose between a directed project or MA thesis.
Regent’s online master’s in communication offers students two learning modalities: online with a residency in Virginia Beach or completely online. Through a full-time course load of six to eight credits per term, students can complete requirements in two years; Regent gives MA students five years to complete the program once matriculation begins.